Welcome to It's Just a Sport
When I was growing up, like most children, I was a huge fan of sports. I loved playing them, watching them, inventing them, reading about them, talking about them, in short, I was obsessed with sports. And like most children I also participated in the local teams, I had practices in the evenings, games on the weekends and the occasional long distance tournament. My childhood was filled with sports and eventually “sports” was narrowed down to the singular form: “sport”.
My sport of choice was football. And by that I mean soccer but frankly I prefer football and not because I’m one of those conceited soccer fans that believes that it’s the greatest sport in the world and feels the need to make a remark about the name every time someone even mentions American Football (NFL). I only use this term because my maternal language is Spanish and as most of you may know, in Spanish soccer is futbol. Also, the invention of the sport has been accredited to the English so why not call it by its original name.
Football has always been and will always be just a sport. All it is is two teams consisting of 11 players on each team, on a 110×70 yard rectangular field, trying to put a 15oz ball in a rectangular cuboid about the size of a truck more times than the other group of 11 players. Just like the tango has always been and will always be just a dance, in which two people move in a coordinated manner that is in rhythm with a beat of the song being played. And painting has always and will always be just art, where a person places a collection of shapes and lines of many different colors onto a white surface. We of course know that all of this is nonsense. Painting is much more than that, dance is much more than that, football is much more than that and the same with photography, music, stories, films, writing. They are vehicles by which the human spirit can express itself. They are creative instruments through which the soul has the power to manifest itself in the physical form. They enable us to become unique, to stand out and show who we really are. They are spontaneous just like life.
Eric Cantona, Manchester United and French striker between 1983-1997, said “Football is the most beautiful of the arts. Because it is art. Art is about spontaneity.” (Click here to see his definition of football) So let’s embrace our spontaneous selves. Let’s see the beauty in our sport, let’s see the elegance in Iniesta’s dribbles, the perfection in Cristiano’s lashing freekicks, the oneness in Leicester’s team defending, the joy in Chicharito’s goal celebrations, the unity in Dortmund’s fans, the sorrow in Juanfran’s missed penalty, the fire in Cholo Simeone’s speeches, the brilliance in Pep Guardiola’s words.
But let’s not stop there, let’s see the artistry in the world, in other sports, music, dance, nature, literature, architecture, theater, films, ourselves. Everything! And let’s take that all in, learn from it, digest it, and spit something beautiful out. Express it with your spontaneity of choice. For me, it’s just a sport: football.
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